Saturday, August 31, 2013

X-Calibre #4

Kurt asks Damask what Apocalypse was planning to send as his second line of the attack, but she says she doesn't know.  It turns out that the second wave is already here, and that wave is a one man incorporeal force called the Shadow King.  He moves from one citizen of Avalon to another, causing chaos.

Damask tries to attack him, using her psychic blades (which are similar but different to Psylocke's psychic knife.  These look more like chains).  However she only manages to damage the host.  She explains to Kurt that the Shadow King moves along another plane to move from host to host, so Kurt hatches a plan, hoping that it is the same plane he uses to teleport, as the Shadow King takes over Mystique's body.

Kurt holds hands with Switchback and Damask, and the three of them teleport together.  Switchback uses her time traveling powers to keep them in the plane longer, and then Damask is able to attack the Shadow King directly.  It works and seems to kill him.  However his influence on one of the mutants there lasts long enough for him to try to fire off a shot at Destiny, but she is saved when Doug jumps in front of her and takes the blast.

Destiny has seen enough, and now agrees to go with them to take down Apocalypse once and for all.

While there wasn't a whole lot to this particular series, I think the characters involved were enough to keep me interested. It's a nice little diversion from the storyline happening in America.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Generation Next #4

Illyana Rasputin is currently inside Mondo's belly, and he's doing his best to keep her in there but not actually digest her.  The science behind being a man made of mostly rock and earth is a mystery to me.  Two of the guards notice Illyana's hand poking out of his stomach and stop him.

The other young mutants are doing much worse however, as while Chamber lies on the ground, Sugar Man is not satisfied.  He thinks Chamber got in thanks to inside help, and he accuses Quietus before stabbing him in the gut.  Vincente and Husk are revealed, and while Husk can heal herself by pulling off her outer layer, Vincente seems to be hurt for real. Chamber uses this moment to reveal that he was only faking death thanks to his psionic powers, and then a fight breaks out between pretty much everyone.

The young mutants try to use the time to escape, but Sugar Man overhears them talking about how important Illyana is and he basically tears Mondo apart to get her.  Colossus and Shadowcat come busting through, and Colossus grabs Illyana and starts making a run for it.  He ditches all his students while Illyana narrates that her brother is big and strong and brave and wonderful and will totally save them all, just you wait. 

Shadowcat wants to go back for the students, but Peter refuses to lose his wife or his sister.  He says he will go back for them, but a large iron door slams shut, trapping them in with all the mutant guards and rampaging humans.  It's too damn bad they didn't have a mutant around who could have phased through that and pulled all of the students out, right?

I remembered hating this series, and now I've reached the end and I still hate it.  This version of Colossus is needlessly cruel.  He's too cruel for this version of the X-men, I'm not even talking about the main timeline.  I'll admit  the juxtaposition of how Illyana sees him versus how he fails here gives an emotional impact, I just don't like that it exists at all.  Kitty looks cool with her Wolverine claws attached to her wrists, and it's nice to see a Chamber who doesn't have half his face blown off, and that's pretty much all the positive I can say about it.  If there's any of the AoA comics you can skip, it's this one.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Astonishing X-men #4

Blink squares off against Holocaust, and while he doesn't take her seriously at all, she actually holds her own quite well against him.  He's near impossible to kill, but she makes a valiant attempt.  Morph shows up to aid her, but surprise, it's actually Rogue having absorbed Morph's powers in order to get close to Holocaust and do him some damage.  It's through this that we find that Rogue is just as capable of making bad jokes as he is.  Holocaust still knocks her cold though and only Morph changing into young Charles is enough to awake her and make her get back up.

In New York, Apocalypse shows a captured Magneto this footage of Rogue to aid in his torture of him.  Magneto tells him that he and his X-men will never give up as long as they are alive.

Apparently Apocalypse's followers aren't so brave, as Holocaust prepares to teleport away when Rogue gets the upper hand against him in the fight.  He tries to take her with him but she is pulled back at the last minute, to find both an alive Sabretooth and Iceman standing there.  An angry Rogue declares that the age of Apocalypse is over.

This series was a nice treat for Rogue fans such as myself, getting to see her go through a whole range of emotions and also be an amazing leader.  This issue is also a good solid lead in to X-men: Omega.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

X-Man #3

Domino, Grizzly, and Caliban have arrived to either offer Nate a job with Apocalypse or to kill him, and they don't have a problem with killing the other heroes who stand in their way.  Forge drops a flash grenade to buy them some time.  He realizes that they don't yet realize what Nate looks like, and so he sets it up to make Domino think that Mastermind is their telepath.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Generation Next #3

Chamber and Skin are inside the slave labor compound and they witness the mutant guards treating the human slaves horribly.  A man and his daughter are killed simply because they stopped working for a moment when the dad offered his child some food he had left over.  These actions infuriate our two young mutants but Skin says they need to hold back and wait until they have a decent chance of winning.  Nearby, Mondo is making his way through by absorbing matter around him and hiding in the rocks.  After taking out one of the guards he saves Illyana's young friend who was thrown and sent to her death.  However when he sees Illyana, he leaves the other girl to get her.  He promises he will come back for her, but for now he takes Illyana and starts making his way out.

Husk and Vincente are hiding inside Quietus' skin, literally, impersonating him as their way of trying to make their way through here.  They run into a bit of trouble when the Sugar Man shows up and tries to get Quietus to look for any possible spies in the place.  They find Skin and Chamber, but have to pretend to be Quietus still and capture them and bring them to the Sugar Man, who demands they be executed.

Shadowcat and Colossus are just outside the compound, when Know-it-all contacts them and let's them know everything that's happening inside.  While she informs them that all of the students are in serious danger, Peter insists that rescuing Illyana is the only thing that matters.  They go to find Mondo while Husk in Quietus' guise fires at Chamber.

I continue to not really care for the overly gritty style of this particular comic.  I'll be happy to put this series behind me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

X-Universe #1

While I don't think there's anything there in the title to clue you in on it, the purpose of the 2 issue X-Universe series was to answer the question of what all of Marvel's other heroes were doing in the Age of Apocalypse.  When I first read this I knew very little of the other heroes beyond their origins, and I don't think this interested me very much, enough that I didn't bother purchasing the second issue at the time.  Now with all the Marvel movies teaching me a lot more about at least some of these heroes, I'm curious to see if it will have a greater impression on me.

Gwen Stacy is an agent for the Human High Council, currently serving in Wakanda with Dr. Donald Blake attempting to take care of the poor and sick who live there. They depend desperately on the supplies that the Human High Council flies in to them, supplies that the Marauders are here to steal.  In this reality, the Marauders are not mutants but humans, specifically Norman Osbourne, Wilson Fisk, Arcade, and the Owl.  Gwen Stacy holds her ground against them, but her weapon isn't strong enough to take them all down.  Fortunately, a huge spider-shaped ship is coming, piloted by Hawkeye and carrying Anthony Stark along with him.  They take out the Marauders and then land, providing the needed supplies to Wakanda and telling Blake (who walks with a cane) that he needs to come with them.

They are heading back to London, where Mikhail has brought an armada of ships with him to negotiate peace on behalf of Apocalypse.  Sue Storm and Ben Grimm don't trust him one bit, and they shouldn't because someone just blew up the base where they were about to land.  They survive the attack and search through the rubble to find a grey Hulk.  Sue (who is a normal human, as is Ben) chops off the Hulk's ear and he transforms back into Bruce Banner, who they were originally coming here to meet.  They realize he doesn't realize what the monster inside him just did, so they take him along with them to meet up with Mikhail along with the other heroes we've seen previously.

We get a glimpse onto Mikhail's ship first, where we get a confirmation that Apocalypse has no intention of making peace.  We also see that he's been modifying humans with enhancements in exchange for them working for him, and among them is Matt Murdock.

Mikhail descends out of his ship and meets up with the human representative Victor Von Doom, who is scarred on one cheek but not wearing an iron mask, and Mikhail gives a rousing speech meant to inspire hope in the humans, and it works as they begin to chant his name.  Our collection of heroes is escorted onto Mikhail's ship, where they find out that the people are so willing to believe him because he's hooked up the mutant Empath to a machine and is manipulating their emotions with him.

On the following page we get a look at the Human High Council files, a quick way to tell us the status of some other Marvel heroes:

T'Challa - killed when Apocalypse showed up in Wakanda to take the vibranium
Frank Castle - Went to a monastery after his wife and children were killed by Apocalypse, but died there with the monks.
Peter Parker - Was supposed to be a contact for Gwen Stacy to meet up with, but was killed before that could happen.
Reed Richards & Johnny Storm - Died during an attempt to help some human refugees escape America.
Namor - Apocalypse also destroyed Atlantis and he died in that attack.

I think I understand why I didn't originally continue with this series.  Their efforts to shove as many characters as possible into this one very brief series leave it cluttered and confusing.  With the exception of Gwen, Sue, and Ben, most of them have so brief a role that they don't really contribute all that much.  Yes, it's neat to see Dr. Doom on the side of good here, but that's not really enough to make it interesting.  I have since purchased the second issue though, so we'll see how they wrap this one up and if it gets any better.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gambit and the X-ternals #3

The Starjammers have brought Gambit and his crew to the location of the M'Kraan crystal.  It's up to Guido, Jubilee, and Sunspot to hold off D'Ken's guards while Deathbird, Gambit, and Lila steal a bit of the crystal.  Instead, they end up going inside it, and both Deathbird and Lila are hit by a beam that freezes them in place, right beside D'Ken. A short silly looking alien with purple skin introduces himself as Jahf.  He's the guardian of the crystal and being so allows him to see all versions of reality.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Weapon X #3

Weapon X is making his way through an icy landscape when he is spotted by two of the Reavers, Mangle and Dead Eye.  They go to attack him, but they're of course no match for him, and he slices one in half and chops the head off the other.  He has now made it to his destination, Wundagore Mountain, the former home of the X-men we saw back in X-Men Chronicles #1.

Friday, August 23, 2013

X-Calibre #3

We get a quick shot of Callisto's dead body floating in the water before we cut to Mystique doting on her son.  She shows the same care for him here that she's known to show Rogue in the main universe, and it's a striking difference from the way she tends to feel about him in the main reality.

The mother and son are being tailed by Damask and Dead Man Wade.  Mystique and Nightcrawler bicker with each other a bit while they make their way to the passage that leads to Avalon.  Nightcrawler confronts his mother about the rumors that she robs the refugees blind before leading them here.  She tries to justify it, but he's not interested.  He says that must be why she won't enter Avalon, because she's not worthy.  She yells at him to shut up, and says that some people simply don't deserve peace, and that it is not her fault.

Regardless, Kurt tells her she has to come with him.  They meet Cain at the gates and he guides them the rest of the way.  He talks about how he used to be an awful person, and while he walked away from that life, he's still haunted by the people he killed.  He guides them to Destiny, and they find her with her adopted son, Doug Ramsey (aka Cypher).

Unfortunately, Damask and Wade have also made it to Avalon.  They are both surprised to find how lush, green, and beautiful this place is.  But while Damask sees this as a source of hope, a reason to not be the awful person she has been up until now, Wade just wants to destroy it all.

Raven tells Destiny all about Magneto's plan, but Destiny is hesitant to leave because she fears her departure could bring destruction to Avalon.  But they don't have to wait that long, because Wade is already attacking.  He launches a grenade that goes off in the middle of where they are standing.  Kurt begs Cain to join the fight, but he says he won't.  Kurt pleads further, telling him that everyone he cares about will burn, and apparently the stress of the decision is enough to make Cain have an aneurism.  He falls over suddenly and whispers "Charles" before he dies.

Lucky for our heroes, Raven snuck a whole lot of firepower in with them, so the fight isn't over yet.  Also to their advantage, Damask turns on Wade, because she's suddenly found something worth fighting for.  Her defection is enough to distract Wade for Kurt to teleport in, grab his head, and then teleport away.  Apparently even Wade can't heal from that.  With Switchback also on their side, this team is going to escort Destiny out of Avalon to try to right the timeline and take down Apocalypse.

While this issue is pretty dialogue heavy, there's also a lot of action going on, so there's a pretty good balance here.  The characters are so different from their mainstream counterparts, but for the most part the way they are acting makes sense given the circumstances.  It's also nice to see an almost entirely female team, with Nightcrawler being the only exception to that.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amazing X-men #3

Magneto kneels before the grave of Charles Xavier and ponders again how one man could have made such a difference in the world, and if giving up everyone he knows and loves to change reality is truly worth it.  Bishop tells him he's wasting their time, and I can't help but agree.  How many times do we have to hear this?

Thankfully, some Infinites, Vanisher, and then finally Apocalypse show up to start a fight.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Factor X #3

Havok still hates his brother and plans to get rid of him, and even having Cyclops save his life from a rebelling mutant grizzly bear/bengal tiger hybrid that Beast created isn't changing that fact.  At the same time Jean is sneaking back into the facility to find Sinister, because she doesn't know he's gone.  Unfortunately for her she is attacked and captured by Havok.

Havok leads Cyclops to Beast's lair where Jean is now being held prisoner, and that leads to a flashback sequence that shows us what happened when she was captured many years ago.  She strongly refused to join Apocalypse's side no matter what they offered her, and it was that strong spirit of hers that made Scott question what he was doing and whether he should be following orders so blindly.  He was set to help her escape the complex when Logan showed up to rescue her, and it was Logan attacking first that resulted in the fight that made Cyclops lose an eye and Logan lose a hand.

Havok tells Cyclops he knows that he has been freeing the mutants from the pens, and he suggests that Jean is there to help him.  He tells his brother that if he wants to prove him wrong, he should kill her.  Of course Scott cannot do that so he ends up being tied up right along side Jean.  Jean is powerful enough to fight against the constraints Beast put on her, and she also flings off Cyclops' visor to help finish the deal and get them both free.  She tells him of the Human High Council's plan to nuke New York, and they both agree to set about freeing as many prisoners from the pens they can before that happens.

Meanwhile, the Bedlam Brothers visit Heaven to capture Scarlett who has been exposed as a spy, and they warn Angel to watch his back as Heaven may not be a safe haven for much longer.

Apocalypse sits in his throne room, and orders a message be sent to Havok - the pens are now useless with Sinister gone, so they can just go ahead and kill all those prisoners now.

The issue is certainly leading up to a climax, where Scott and Jean will have to race against time to try to free as many people as possible.  There's also a quick bit where Scarlett is shown being nauseous before she's captured, meaning obviously that she's pregnant.  But do you really expect Havok to care?  He's been quite the jerk so far.

This issue isn't necessarily a bad one, it just contains a lot of characters that I don't find myself caring about all that much.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Astonishing X-men #3

Wild Child is being chased by Infinites, but the X-men intercept them and take them down.  Unable to communicate with them to let them know what happened to Sabretooth, Wild Child actually licks Rogue on the face so she can absorb some of his memories.  Gross. They head toward the plant in an effort to destroy it and possibly also save Sabretooth.  However it doesn't look like they'll be too successful when Holocaust seemingly beats him to death.

The Age of Apocalypse: The Chosen


The actual "story" of this issue is only three pages long.  One of the Madri sneaks into Apocalypse's lair to find out if he is considered chosen or forgotten.  The rest of the issue is devoted to character profiles told from Apocalypse's perspective.  While you might think these would provide some new information about this world's back story we haven't seen, in fact it just sums up what we've already seen so far in the previous issues.  And yet this was priced at $2.50 when the normal issues were $1.95.

Suffice to say I'm not going to bother recapping the profiles.  What may be slightly surprising is that "chosen" does not equal "fighting for Apocalypse."  He chooses who he truly thinks is the fittest to survive rather than who agrees with him.  That is pretty consistent for his character.

Chosen: Magneto and Rogue, Cyclops, Sinister, Storm, Quicksilver, Four Horsemen, Weapon X and Jean Grey, Colossus, Angel, Sabretooth and Wildchild, Bishop, Madri*

Forgotten: X-man, Havok, Northstar and Aurora, Beast, X-calibre, Human High Council, Gambit and the X-ternals, Charles Xavier

* The Madri are chosen but then quickly switched to forgotten on the last page when Apocalypse kills the idiot for snooping.  Really I don't know what else he expected.

Obviously this issue is not much more than an art gallery, though nearly all the art is stuff we've seen previously.  It's a cash grab, nothing more.  I was one of the suckers who fell for it back in the day, probably hoping to get more details like some of the previous guidebooks I had purchased had contained, but instead was left with nothing but a recap of stuff I already knew.  It's the risk you often take as a comic book fan.  However as a reader of this blog you don't have to feel so cheated, as I will be covering another issue later on this afternoon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

X-Man #2

Nate is being pulled in two different directions – Forge wants him to show restraint with his powers and learn how to handle a situation without them, while Essex pushes him further than he's ready to go. In typical form, Nate is far more attracted to Essex's way of thinking.

Essex also leads the group to one of Apocalypse's factories where they discover that Beast is gathering human remains to harvest the materials to help build alpha level mutants. Seeing the carnage, Nate flips out and goes on the attack when they were just supposed to be doing a reconnaissance mission. He manages to make it out of there alive, but not without one of the Madri escaping to go let Apocalypse know about this alpha level telepath. Forge is not happy.

Brute confronts Essex and tells him that he recognizes him, and I don't know why they're beating around the bush on this as if we don't know who the guy with a diamond on his forehead named Essex is. Mr. Sinister is set to attack Brute when Forge comes in and tells him he doesn't want him as part of their party anymore. Nate meanwhile has grabbed Siryn Sonique and is bringing her via psi-link to Westchester where he saw Magneto last issue. It's actually baby Charles that discovers their presence, and while Magneto tries to ask who's there, Sonique breaks the psi-link and sends them back.

And it's just in time, because Domino and her fellow rogues have arrived to attack the whole group.

I find myself completely uninterested in what is happening here. Clearly Sinister created Nate as an attempt to overthrow Apocalypse, and he's going to find out that Nate just isn't that easy to control. On top of the obvious plotting there's some really weak dialogue and I can't really enjoy myself at all.  This series isn't as bad as Generation Next, but it's clearly uninspired.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Generation Next #2

Illyana Rasputin and another young mutant named Ace are hiding in the depths of the Seattle power core they are forced to work in as slaves.  They must remain quiet to make sure that the Sugar Man, the evil mutant that runs the place, doesn't find them.  He passes them by, and they remain safe for now.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Astonishing X-men #2


Rogue, Sunfire, Morph, Sabretooth (with Wild Child over his shoulder), and Blink are all in Chicago trying to save the humans there from being killed by Holocaust's impending attack. The humans are panicked and fleeing, and things are made worse when suddenly Sunfire loses control and starts flaming out in front of them all. Rogue is forced to absorb his powers to calm him down, and in doing so she views his memories of a time when Apocalypse killed his friends and family while Nemesis held him back. Nemesis being Holocaust's former identity.

Friday, August 16, 2013

X-Calibre #2


Continuing from last issue, Destiny made physical contact with Switchback and saw all of Avalon in flames.  Meanwhile, Nightcrawler is suffocating along with the other refugees within a submarine whose systems are quickly failing.  They are forced to rise above the surface so they can breathe.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gambit and the X-ternals #2

When we last left our heroes, they were hitching a ride through space thanks to Lila Cheney's teleportation powers.  They end up in the Shi'ar galaxy, staring down the Imperial Guard.  Their leader Gladiator tells them to surrender, but Gambit chooses to run.  The Guard pursue them, but after a brief scuffle that involves Gladiator hitting Strong Guy with a huge boulder and Strong Guy responding by punching him out of the atmosphere, they manage to escape.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weapon X #2

Logan finds Jean trying to help the humans who have ridden across the Atlantic on sentinels into Europe.  Unfortunately, two of Apocalypse's followers, Box and Copycat, have also snuck in among them and start shooting like crazy.  Logan takes them down, but Jean doesn't want him to kill.  It seems the two of them are starting to grow apart.

Logan heads over to give the high council information, but he's stopped by Mariko.  They hint at their past and briefly tease us by reminding us of their history in the main reality before she tells him she does not trust Brian Braddock.  They are interrupted by an explosion as yet another terrorist group is attacking, this time a group of altered humans who in the main reality make up the Reavers.  I have no idea where they got an airship from or why this is suddenly a steampunk world, but regardless Logan decides to jump into the flames and hope his healing factor will keep him alive long enough to take the Reavers down.

He manages to do just that, even with all the hair burned off his head (and isn't it interesting that his pants don't burn up like his shirt does?), but as he's done he hears Jean telepathically telling him goodbye.  She's making her way back to America to warn them about how the Human High Council plans to blow it all sky high.  He manages to catch up to her before she takes off, but she tells him he'll have to kill her if he wants to stop her, and we all know he can't do that.  Well, unless she's "Phoenix" in a movie we all wish had never happened.

This is an extremely quick issue.  I guess because it's primarily action and not much else.  The Mariko bit feels completely unnecessary, but otherwise it's paced fairly well.  I like that it hints at a past between Logan and the Reavers without actually spelling it all out for us.  It just leaves you wondering and able to make up the reasons for yourself.  Beyond that there's really not much to say because it's over and done so quickly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Factor X #2

We start off with a glimpse inside the pens in which Apocalypse keeps both humans and mutants who have been deemed unworthy.  We learn that the brains (and literally only the brains) of six telepaths are what keep the prisoners too dazed to dream of uprising or escape.  Magneto appears among them to take two of the prisoners to escape, but unfortunately for her, Polaris is not included.

Meanwhile, Cyclops and Havok go before Apocalypse, who apparently thinks he's auditioning for a play, because seriously he could not be any more dramatic in his speeches if he tried.  They once again remind us that Sinister has defected, but Apocalypse is certain that it will not be a problem for him.  Havok is a kiss up but Cyclops dares to speak up in front of Apocalypse, so he gains his respect.  This of course makes Havok insanely jealous.

The brothers leave and have a discussion about power.  Havok wants it, but Cyclops is only concerned with being the good soldier and following orders.  Because you know, that's kind of his thing (recent developments in the comics not withstanding). The brothers part ways and Havok heads to speak to the Guthries about the prison breakout.  While their security systems can't identify Magneto, they know Polaris saw him, so they go to speak with her.

The irony here is that in the main continuity, Havok and Polars are lovers. But here he slaps her when she tells him the truth, because I guess he can't believe Magneto made it through their defenses.  She reacts by using what little powers she has left to move the iron in his blood, before the Guthries taze her.  They bring her to Beast so he can dig through her mind and see exactly what she saw of the breakout.  He explains to them and us that Lorna thinks Magneto is her father because her real parents died in the cullings and the trauma had her hold on to the belief that Magneto was her real father.  She and Rogue formed an alliance for a while, but something apparently soured between them because Rogue ended up stealing half her powers away from her.  But none of that explains why Lorna calls Havok Alex and asks him why he's doing this to her, as if her madness somehow allowed her to know of their connection in the main reality.

Meanwhile Cyclops meets up with the Bedlam Brothers, who tell him they can't find any evidence of where Sinister is now.  Angel literally drops in on them because he's heard the news and he can't help but think that a war with Europe would be bad for his business.

Alex has retreated to Angel's club to see Scarlett once again, and he assures her that he's going to get Cyclops out of the way so he can be in line to replace Sinister as Horseman.  He leaves and Scarlett gets a phone call.  We don't know who's on the other end, but it's clear she's actually there as an agent for the Human High Council.

Beast is torturing Lorna to get her memories out but her powers interfere with his equipment.  He threatens to perform brain surgery on her, but Cyclops interrupts.    He reminds Beast about the treaty with the humans that forbids genetic experimentation.  Beast scoffs, saying that the treaty is nothing more than a charade and he shouldn't have to follow it.  Cyclops responds by destroying Beast's equipment with his eye beam.  As he goes to leave the room, Lorna looks at him, but she sees him as Magneto, in the same cloaked fashion that she saw him earlier.  Is Cyclops the one helping the prisoners escape?

Yes, yes he is.

He comes back for her later and guides her out the pens, even attacking Northstar and Aurora when they show up to stop him.  He guides Lorna into the hands of the Underground movement while Havok watches  from far away, confident that he now has the way to overthrow his brother once and for all.

The misdirect of Magneto builds to a good reveal that, yes, even in this reality, Cyclops is still a good guy, but there's still a lot of rehashing here that feels completely unnecessary for a second issue.  It feels like padding because that's exactly what it is.  More than anything I'm really confused by Polaris seeming to know Havok here.  I honestly can't remember if it comes up again or not, but since she's free of the pens now I would think not.  Overall it's not a terrible issue, and if I didn't hate Summers brother drama so much I might have enjoyed it a bit more.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Amazing X-men #2

The small boy we saw trying to escape with his family last issue cries out for someone to help him, but unfortunately the only person who hears his cries is a mutant who promises to feed off his misery.  His skin is made of a strange stringy material and it makes numerous "frip" sounds as he ties up the boy within himself.  His name is Abyss and he's one of Apocalypse's four horsemen.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

X-man #1


The X-universe has three major time travelers among their ranks, or at least they did as of the 90s. Rachel Summers was the first, and it was eventually revealed that she existed only within her particular timeline. There are no alternate Rachels. Bishop is another of the three, and as we know he's now even further displaced, living in this timeline since Xavier was murdered. The third major character displaced from time was Cable, and he's got a lot of special circumstances regarding his birth. He's the child of Scott and Jean's clone Madelyne Pryor. He was implanted with a virus and raised in yet another alternate future. So we're not going to see an exact duplicate of Cable in the Age of Apocalypse, but since Cable had a solo book at this time they had to replace it, and that's how we got this title.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Factor X #1


I bet you'd never guess in a million years which title this used to be.  Moving the X from the front to the back of the title is such a huge change.  Havok was starring in that title at the time, and Beast and Cyclops were members of the original X-Factor team, so they at least chose the right group of characters to follow here.

The issue starts as a group of mutants named Artemiz, Phantazia, Newt, Dominic, and Pyro are trying to escape Apocalypse's prison camps, but are stopped by Cyclops, Havok, Northstar and Aurora.
This version of Pyro does not have the special equipment he has in the main universe, and every time he uses his powers, he badly burns himself. While Cyclops tries to capture the escapees peacefully, the others are more than happy to kill them.

We cut to Sinister alone with his thoughts, thinking about how he was so close to engineering a newer better race of mutants, but then Apocalypse started this war with the humans. He's going to have to escape the citadel and put into actions his plans to takeover.

We find out that two more mutants are directly under Sinister's guard, Elizabeth and Sam Guthrie. They're in charge of keeping the mutants held inside the pens from escaping. After scolding them for letting the few escape, Scott moves on to go to see Sinister while Alex goes to check up with Beast.

Sinister narrates to us that it was he and McCoy who designed the Infinites, the soldiers we've seen fighting for Apocalypse all through out these issues so far. Somehow, this version of Beast still has his delightful enthusiasm and charm while also being deliciously evil. Alex meanwhile, wishes to take his brother's place as Sinister's favorite.

We're introduced to the Bedlam Brothers, another of Sinister's group. They bicker amongst each other but seem to truly care about each other, which is something we can't say about the Summers brothers. The Bedlam Brothers head to Heaven to party, and Alex also shows up but he's here to see the singer, Scarlett McKenzie. She's a human, so he's really not supposed to be seeing her, but the heart wants what it wants.

When the three of them return home, they find Cyclops waiting outside Sinister's door wishing to be let in. One of the Bedlam brothers picks the psychic lock for him, and when they open the door they find the place empty and all the equipment trashed. Cyclops claims leadership, but Havok plans to change that.

Once again, we get an issue that is more introduction than anything else. Since we've already seen hints at Sinister, Cyclops, Havok, and Beast before now a lot of it feels particularly tedious. I'm really, really glad I've only got one more first issue left.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Amazing X-men #1


The humans are gathering in Maine because word has spread that they may be able to escape America thanks to the plans of the Human High Council. Unfortunately for them, Apocalypse's forces are always watching.

Copycat (a lesser known mutant usually making appearances in X-force around this time) pretends to be one of them in order to gain some information on the coming rescue, and reports back to her team. But the humans still have a small glimmer of hope thanks to the X-men, who plan to hijack a sentinel and import him with a virus that will see them as friendlies and therefore allow them to aid in the rescue. This portion of the team is made up of Quicksilver, Storm, Iceman, and Banshee, who we've seen to varying degrees already, as well as Dazzler and Exodus making their first appearances here.

We have further proof that this version of Iceman is far more advanced than his normal counterpart in that he seems to have a way of converting other people into moisture, thereby allowing him to freeze them and transport them from place to place. I can't imagine why they never tried to bring that into the main universe. However we don't get to see an example of how this works now because Magneto reveals to Exodus that he in fact has the ability to teleport people and he should use that now. Despite having never done it before, he brings them all exactly where he needs to be.

This is the second time that Magneto has hid someone's powers from them, the first being Lila Cheney over in Gambit and the X-ternals. Here he says he never told Exodus because he was afraid his powers would corrupt him. I guess this is all supposed to be a reference to how Exodus acts in the main timeline (he's a bad guy and pretty devout follower of Magneto), but as it is it's quite silly.

Storm heads out to the ocean and brings up a hurricane to try to mask the oncoming sentinels from Apocalypse's forces. It's difficult, and we're told Storm does something she normally doesn't do - pray. Then she says "thank the goddess" not long after. I guess the situation is getting her in touch with her religious side?

Storm's interference works and the Sentinels show up. The X-men enact their plan to hack into the sentinels, and while they at first think it works, a sentinel then completely obliterates Iceman.  But hey, no worries, remember Checkov's Iceman's special ability? The characters assure us he can rebuild himself even from that state. As they ponder why their hacking didn't work, it is immediately explained to them by this world's version of the Brotherhood.  Their programming was switched so that the Brotherhood is protected from the Sentinels while the X-men are still seen as foes.

This issue is pretty firmly average. We've got a decent amount of set up, but not much else. We have conflicting writing with that Storm moment. The misdirect is well handled, and Iceman being destroyed did shock me initially, but having it all solved so quickly kind of spoils the suspense.

You may also notice that there are no scans for this review.  That's because there's nothing really interesting worth showing.  They will return as needed.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Weapon X #1


This should be obvious, but this title replaced Wolverine's solo series.

The last we saw of Logan and Jean, they had just brought some information from Sinister to the Human High Council in England, informing them that Apocalypse intended to betray their truce.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gambit and the X-ternals #1


I think this was the replacement title for X-force, though the only common thread between the two is the appearance of Sunspot.

We start off by meeting this reality's version of Jubilee, whose early life is even worse than the one she had in the main timeline. Though she does get to hang out with Gambit most of the time now, so she really shouldn't be complaining too much. I wouldn't.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

X-Calibre #1


This series replaced Excaliber, which starred Nightcrawler and a bunch of other mutants that you won't see here.  There's something so very 90s about the spelling of this title that always makes me shake my head. Fortunately, the actual story inside is better than that.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Astonishing X-men #1

[Before I begin, I want to apologize for some of the blurriness in these scans. Judging by the ginormous ink smudge on one of the pages, I didn't get the best printing of this issue.]

We start with Magneto once again calling together his people to send them on missions they may not return from. The X-men don't really see a difference between this and every other mission they've been on in this dangerous world.  The title of the issue is "Once More With Feeling." Beyond making me think of Buffy, I can't really see why they chose that name.  Banshee makes his first appearance in the Age of Apocalypse in this issue on page 3. And then is never seen again for the rest of it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Generation Next #1


Generation X was still a fairly new series when the Age of Apocalypse happened.  They were a team of young mutants lead by Banshee and Emma Frost, training to be the next X-men.  With the exception of Jubilee who left the X-men to join, these were all new recruits and not many of them have gone on to be major players.  The closest they ever got to mainstream was that horrible movie adaptation.  Jubilee is not a member in this AoA version, but many of the other kids remain.

We're dumped straight into the middle of the action where a boy who identifies himself as Chamber narrates for us.  He looks an awful lot like Gambit here, or perhaps Havok with brown hair. The Havok comparison is probably better. In the main continuity, Chamber was named because he has a big gaping hole that starts around his mouth and goes all the way down his torso because he's not immune to his own energy blasts. That happened to him the first time he ever used his powers. Apparently in this reality they found him a little earlier and gave him that suit to use so that he's just got a smaller hole in his chest instead. Really, his origin in the normal universe doesn't make sense. Havok explodes energy from his body, but he has no holes. Cyclops has incredibly forceful blasts streaming out of his own eyes at all times, but his eyelids are perfectly capable of holding them in. So it seems like Jono here really got the short end of the stick when it comes to mutation.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

X-men: Alpha

While the two X-men Chronicles issues cover events that take place in the past, X-men: Alpha was the real introduction to the Age of Apocalypse, being released before all the other issues. This was the first thing that the current readers saw at the time to introduce them to this world.

Friday, August 2, 2013

X-men Chronicles #2

X-men Chronicles #2 

This issue was actually published toward the end of the Age of Apocalypse event, and seems to be designed to help answer some of the questions people may have had while reading the various series. The main one apparently being "How did Magneto and Rogue end up together?"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

X-men Chronicles #1


While the primary Age of Apocalypse issues were set in the "present day" part of the timeline, they did think to provide us with a prequel to those stories in the X-men Chronicles series. This title replaced X-men Unlimited, which was basically just a series where Marvel was squeezing even more money out of us X-men fans by providing outside-of-the-main-storyline character pieces in double sized issues. In all fairness, a lot of these stories were really high quality in large part due to that longer length.

One Man's Worth (Reboot) - An Introduction

Are you overcome with a strange feeling of deja vu? Don't worry, it's not a glitch in the Matrix. While this series was once posted on the Second Time Around blog, I decided to include it here on this site with my other X-men reviews.  To make it more appropriate to this blog, it will be in marathon form!  There will be some repetition of content in the beginning, but I will also be taking an editor's pen to my old reviews, as well as adding or eliminating some of the images to make everything more consistent. My original introduction is below, and the first issue will be out this afternoon.

Like many of my generation, watching the X-men cartoon that premiered in 1992 led me to picking up the comics and becoming a full fledged, dedicated reader, visiting my local comic book shop every month to get the latest issues. Being judged by my peers as an outsider and a weirdo, the X-men and their "hated because they are different" themes appealed to me in many ways. Having very few friends of my own, I thought of them as my friends; characters I went on adventures with by reading their comics and watching the cartoon. As such, I'll never forget the day I walked into my comic shop in early 1995. The store was run by an elderly couple - he was the sports card expert, and she knew the comics. She also knew who of her customers read what, even without them having a pull list. So when I walked in that day to buy my comics, she pulled me over to the counter to show me a press release. She did not look particularly happy about it. I've scoured the internet to try to find a copy of that press release, but apparently no one has uploaded it to the internet, so I'll do my best to paraphrase:

"The end of Legionquest will have disastrous effects throughout the world of the X-men, and as such, changes to the current titles are being made. As of March 1995, Uncanny X-men is cancelled. In its place will be Astonishing X-men..."

What followed was a brief description of the title, and then it continued on to every single X-book at the time (and given that this was the 90s, that was a lot.) Over and over again I saw the words "cancelled" and "replaced." There was no mention that this was just going to be a four issue limited story arc before everything returned to normal. They presented it as the end of the X-men I had come to know and love. Mock me if you will, but I got misty eyed reading it, thinking that my characters were going to be taken away from me. I did eventually find out that it was going to be temporary, but at the time I still wasn't entirely pleased with the idea. I bought the issues anyway and in time I came to enjoy it. It was a lot of fun scouring the issues for easter egg references to the heroes I knew, now drastically changed in this post apocalyptic world. And then, poof!, it was gone, and everything was largely back to normal.

Of course, comics business being what it is, this isn't the last we ever actually saw of the Age of Apocalypse. One shots, mini-series, and more have continued the story. However, I personally like the idea of this not being an alternate universe but rather a twisted version of the X-men's main continuity. Their own version of "The Wish" or that version of 1985 where Biff Tannen controls Hill Valley. For this marathon I will be sticking to the original event only. Since this series was held over multiple titles, I'm using the guide on the fantastic to review them in the proper chronological order. Check out their page if you'd like to do your own reading including the later released issues. As for what you'll see here, this is how it will go:

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